Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I’m Afraid My Mentally Ill Dad Will Cause a Scene at My Wedding”

I’m getting married this year and am really excited about the wedding. Everything is going well save for one aspect — my dad. He has been mentally ill for the last 10 years but refuses to get any sort of treatment and thinks everyone else is the problem. He gets angry quickly and goes off on rants, and it’s always hard to tell what will set him off. I’d prefer for my older brother to give the family toast, but I think this will really hurt my dad’s feelings and cause more issues than just letting him give a toast. Dad’s not really on good terms with anyone else in the family, so asking someone to handle him if he goes off the rails is not an option. I am seeing a therapist to deal with my feelings surrounding my dad’s mental illness and things are pretty good on that front.

I think this is the place in most of these letters where the bride explains why elopement isn’t an option, so I’ll spare everyone and just say: I wanted to have a wedding rather than getting eloped. We’re keeping it really simple and low key so that hopefully things will be calm throughout the day. My guy thinks we should let everyone who wants to speak at the wedding do so and deal with the fallout, but I’d rather not make guests uncomfortable if we can avoid it. Is there any way I can honor my dad and still keep the peace at the reception? — The Bride’s not the crazy one

If it’s the reception you really want to keep the peace at — and, I’m assuming, the wedding itself — why not invite your father to say something at the rehearsal dinner if you’re planning to have one. And if you weren’t planning to have one, consider inviting your inner circle — the people you don’t have to worry about being uncomfortable in the presence of your mentally ill father because they love you and want to support you — to a dinner before your wedding. Call it a rehearsal dinner or a meet-and-greet or a “last dinner” just to be funny — call it whatever you want — but organize it for the purpose of blowing off a little steam before the big event. Invite your dad to give a toast and give him the opportunity to get some of the crazy out of his system before your wedding. Your dad will feel included and you’ll feel supported by your closest confidantes in the event that your dad “goes off the rails.”

And, look, if he doesn’t manage to get all the crazy out of his system at a dinner before the wedding and he wants to make a scene at your reception, delegate the responsibility of managing him to someone. You say he’s not on good terms with any family members so asking someone to watch him isn’t an option, but it shouldn’t matter whether he’s on good terms with anyone else; it should matter whether you’re on good terms with anyone else. You’re the one who would be asking for the favor, and it’s your day — I’d think there’s got to be at least one loving family member or friend who would be willing to step up and “babysit” your dad for a couple of hours so that you can enjoy your wedding. Can’t you think of one person? An aunt, an uncle? Even just a kind-hearted friend you can sit next to your dad and ask to keep an eye on him while you circulate?

Finally, if inviting your father to your wedding is going to cause you so much anxiety that you can’t enjoy your day, you may want to consider not inviting him. Of course, this option carries some potentially crushing consequences that will likely affect your relationship with your father for a long, long time. But maybe not having him in your life is preferable to having an untreated mentally ill father at the edge of your world always threatening to shake things up without any notice. I don’t know. That’s something for you to think about and discuss with your therapist (and fiancé, of course).

Think about what kind of role you want your father to have in your life and in the new family you’re creating with your husband-to-be if he never gets the treatment he needs. What kind of role do you want him to have and how will his presence or absence at your wedding, let alone his potential toast, lend itself to that role? And if he “goes off the rails” at your wedding, would the consequences be even greater than if you didn’t invite him at all? Figure out the “worst case scenario” of your different options — inviting him and letting him speak; inviting him and not letting him speak; not inviting him at all. And then after you decide for yourself which is the least worst, choose the one you’d more easily be able to live with. Good luck.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

48 comments… add one
  • avatar

    bethany March 26, 2013, 9:19 am

    It sounds like you’re concerned about him making a scene during the “Family Toast”, not the wedding, itself… Sooo… Why not just eliminate the family toast? I’ve never heard of a family toast, and I’m sure your guests wouldn’t mind skipping it.

    If he really wants to say a few words, do WWS and have him speak at the rehearsal dinner.

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    • avatar

      Amanda March 26, 2013, 10:39 am

      I agree completely! At my wedding, we didn’t have any toasts, announced entrances, or announced father-daughter/mother-son dances (we had them with the dance floor packed), but it was still a wedding (mahwage :)) and an awesome good time for all. No one was slighted by the lack of announcements or toasts, in fact, most were relieved that they didn’t have to give and/or sit through awkward toasts. Most guests who will attend your wedding are going to surround you with so much love and you will be so joyful that you won’t even think about a parent’s bad behavior or poor attitude. Trust me on this, you won’t care one quanta because you will be so damn happy.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 March 26, 2013, 10:13 am

      I believe it is customary at the wedding for the father of the bride to give a speech, especially if they are paying, or helping to pay for the wedding, and the grooms family makes a toast at the rehearsal dinner, but I’m with you, and just cut out the speeches all together, or have them all at the rehearsal dinner. I did go to a wedding two years ago, where everyone in the bridal party, both sets of parents, and an aunt did a speech at the rehearsal dinner, and it was just terrible, and extremely boring!

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    • avatar

      MMcG March 26, 2013, 11:57 am

      Alternatively if the concern is so toast focused… whomever is going to be handling the microphone (assuming there is one) can be told not to give it to certain people. If you want to have a few toasts – say MOH and Best Man – whoever is controlling the music or sound can act as a 3rd party referee which might help a little 😉

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      • KKZ

        KKZ March 26, 2013, 12:56 pm

        I was afraid my father-in-law was going to say something outrageous if given a chance to speak at my wedding. He tends to say outrageous/offensive things to get attention, and doesn’t have a good sense of boundaries/appropriateness. Get a couple beers in him and you never know what he’ll pull.

        So I told the DJ, see that man over there with the white hair and goofy grin? Under no circumstances let him take the mic from you. Because he might just try. (The only scheduled toasts at our reception were Best Man and Maid of Honor.)

        The DJ agreed to comply. Then hours later, he did the Elimination Dance, where all the couples in the room get on the floor and then are “knocked out” based on how long they’ve been married, with the longest-married couple left standing, and they’re asked to share marriage advice to the newlyweds.

        Guess who’d been married the longest. >.<

        Poor DJ had no choice. Dad got the mic and my heart was in my throat. Luckily, he let that golden opportunity to be a jackass slide. I don't remember what he said – something generic – but it was a terrifying moment for sure.

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  • avatar

    Desiree March 26, 2013, 9:21 am

    Wow, this has been a big debate about my wedding. My dad *is* treated, but there have been some problems with his treatment lately. As he and my mother are paying for the wedding, it’s been even more complicated. I love my dad and he is often very supportive of me, but there is a well-documented history of him “acting out” at big events with catastrophic consequences. Crowds almost seem to be a trigger for him. My mom and I have discussed that he should NOT give a toast at the wedding, and a few other key people know as well. So, LW, I think you should do exactly as Wendy advises: decide on a policy and recruit a few people to help enforce it.
    One more thing: “My guy thinks we should let everyone who wants to speak at the wedding do so and deal with the fallout…” People may have different philosophies, but my opinion is weddings should not be open-mike night (particularly if you are serving alcohol!). If nothing else, it isn’t considerate to your guests to force them to sit through an endless number of toasts. We are having the maid of honor and best man give *short* toasts, and then we are going to speak briefly to thank our parents and guests for making our big day possible.

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    • avatar

      painted_lady March 26, 2013, 10:47 am

      So agree with you about this not being open mike night. About seven or eight years ago a friend of mine married into a culturally patriarchal – EXTREMELY patriarchal – family. All of the husband’s relatives were there – it was like a 300-person guest list – including those from his parents’ country of origin. And every single relative of his got up and said something about him, and the only few things that were said about her were from the aunts who expressed how glad they were to have another pair of hands to help with holiday dinners. They didn’t even get her *name* right most of the time. And this went on for well over an hour, and finally at the tail end her father got up, went to the mike and announced that he felt like at least one member of her family should be allowed to speak as she was part of this day, too. And then he corrected them on how to pronounce her name. I can’t decide if it was more awkward or awesome. But having to listen to a bunch of people I didn’t know go on about someone I had met in passing twice (rather than, I dunno, them as a couple) definitely made that the worst wedding ever.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl March 26, 2013, 9:29 am

    “My guy thinks we should let everyone who wants to speak at the wedding do so”

    Bad bad bad idea. Pick the people who will give speeches (greeting, toast, blessing) and tell your DJ to refuse speech requests made by anyone else. Speeches that drone on, or too many speeches are boring for your guests AND do you really want drunk Aunt Sally rambling on the mic during dancing time about changing your diapers?

    Wendy’s idea of your father delivering a speech/toast the evening before- even if you have to create an event to do so- is great. Let your brother give a toast during the wedding.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 26, 2013, 9:46 am

      Oh, I forgot to say- We’ve decided to forgo speeches at our upcoming wedding. My parents will give a short (like 90 second) greeting, my fiance’s dad will give a short blessing and that’s it. The DJ has strict and clear instructions to allow NO ONE mic access. No one has expressed any annoyance that there won’t be any toasts. Honestly the last 3 weddings we’ve attended, the toasts have been BEYOND boring. All the little inside jokes etc with the couple that are so funny? Everyone is just sitting there not getting the joke…which isn’t very fun.

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      • avatar

        bethany March 26, 2013, 9:58 am

        Yeah, a lot of times toasts are awkward and make guests feel uncomfortable. My husband shot a wedding once where the father of the bride gave a 45 minute speech. Seriously. 45 minutes. Can you imagine?!

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 26, 2013, 10:02 am

        Recently I was at a wedding where the maid of honor was litterally shaking she was so nervous giving her toast. My anxiety level shot through the roof, feeding off of this girls poor stage fright. I would never do that to a friend.

        Another wedding the 2 maids of honor wrote a 10 min long poem, with every line rhyming. It was excruciating.

        Yeah, I’m firmly in the no on VERY few speech boat. Like 3 mins of speeches total boat.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow March 26, 2013, 10:55 am

        YES. I’ve seen some really awkward speeches that just made me feel…bad.

        I was so nervous the first time I gave a wedding speech that I fell off the platform/stage thingie as I tried to stand up. That’s right, I tried to stand up and instead fell on the ground and I took my chair with me.

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      • sobriquet

        sobriquet March 26, 2013, 1:05 pm

        If you think giving a speech is nerve wracking, try SINGING! I was honored to be asked to sing at my brother’s wedding, but terrified to perform in front of hundreds of (super rich, snobby) people. I ended up drinking lots of wine beforehand and then stayed out of the spotlight as much as possible while singing their first dance. I literally tried to hide behind the dj, haha.

        I’ve been asked to sing at my future SIL’s wedding this August, eek. In front of my boyfriend’s entire family. So now I have that to be anxious about!

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 26, 2013, 10:24 am

        I was just at a wedding in October, and the bestman was telling a story about how the bride and groom met, and in the story, he said everyone else at the bar was going after this one girl for her lactational skills hahaha… about four people actually laughed, and the rest were sitting there with their mouths open in awe, and the grooms grandmother was pissed. Then he went on about a spring break they went on, and how he got the shits.

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      • Stonegypsy

        the_other_Wendy March 26, 2013, 12:22 pm

        Completely, and totally agree. We had a couple really nice speeches at our wedding. And then, there was the toast my step-dad gave. I asked him to, because we’re not super close but I wanted him to feel involved. He spent five minutes talking about what a screw-up I was when I was in Junior High and High School, and then ended with something along the lines of “I’m glad she turned out okay.”
        Everyone felt really awkward.

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      • avatar

        MissDre March 26, 2013, 1:09 pm

        LOL at my brother’s wedding my Grandma went on and on about how she’s giving my brother and his new wife a lot of money but she’s made it clear all along that they don’t get it until AFTER the wedding is over so now that they’re officially married she’ll be giving them the money. In my head I was like, Grandma WTF?? And I was praying she would at least keep quiet about how much she was giving them.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay March 26, 2013, 12:02 pm

        I was the MOH in my friend’s wedding, and she let her cousin do a speech at the rehearsal dinner because she was the only other bridesmaid and felt left out. The girl started sobbing halfway through, and it was super awkward. So, the next day at the reception, I tried to keep it really upbeat and funny, especially since the bride and groom are not the type of people who like really sappy, sentimental stuff.

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  • avatar

    Suzy March 26, 2013, 9:33 am

    My mom is mentally ill. You simply cannot predict or control the crazy. You have to consider why you want him there. Can he control himself enough to support you and be on good behavior? If so, its a possibility. But stress causes episodes so the crowd and emotions will only make him worse.

    Is it him – as he is today – that you want to include in your special day or is it some former version of himself that you want to honor? A mental illness cannot be controlled with wishes and prayers. It takes serious medication and if he’s not on it, you might just need to let it go and not have him there. Do what’s best for you. Honestly, he may be dreading his own internal struggle to fit in. Just know in your heart that the father under the illness – the one that loves you – would want your day to be everything you have dreamt of.

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    • avatar

      Temperance March 26, 2013, 11:47 am

      Please feel free to not answer if this makes you uncomfortable, but do you have a relationship with your mother? I can only stand speaking to my mother once per month, and she’s really pissed at me now for not inviting her to my very small, destination wedding. (I did it because I knew that it would be the best for me to exclude her.)

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      • avatar

        SuzyQ March 26, 2013, 3:14 pm

        Yes, fortunately I have a wonderful relationship with her now that she is on court-ordered medication and in an assisted-living facility. Before that, I never saw her because she was very verbally-abusive. She did go to my sis’ wedding in that state, and even though she did not cause a scene, her presence was a distraction and she was cold to all the people she was angry with. Even without being volatile, she still managed to make a lot of the energy in the room about her. I wouldn’t do it if I were the LW.

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  • avatar

    Sophronisba March 26, 2013, 9:40 am

    I agree that the formal toasting can be skipped, especially if being around a lot of people makes your dad anxious and prone to act out – why give him an extra reason to get upset? For a charmingly simple and low-key affair, maybe the way to go is to ask one or two friends with video cameras to mingle and record best wishes from all/any of your guests, including your dad. That way he isn’t singled out to perform the toast or singled out to NOT perform the toast. And you’ll have a video you can edit for a keepsake.

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    • kmtthat

      kmentothat March 26, 2013, 10:32 am

      I second this. I’ve always found planned toasts to be awkward in general (I say this both as a wedding guest and someone who has to give two speeches at weddings this year). Isn’t a fear of public speaking one of the most common fears? In any case, I think having a video with sweet comments from whomever would like to say something, more privately, to you would be great meet in the middle. I think so many people are caught up in what they are “supposed” to do for a wedding reception and don’t realize that it is really just a party…and anything that will make it not go smoothly should just be changed to suit your needs.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle March 26, 2013, 9:45 am

    Yeah, I agree with Wendy— do an informal event where your dad can say whatever he wants to, & cut out speeches altogether during your wedding. Maybe you & your husband (to-be) can just give a brief toast? like, a toast to the guests or something (so it wouldn’t be like you’re toasting yourself) & then be done with it.

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  • katie

    katie March 26, 2013, 9:55 am

    WWS, particularly about having someone watch him. i know you think its not an option, LW, but you need to make it a *priority*. if your family is really so terrible that none of them would do it, i’d even look into hiring security for the night- seriously. but that needs to happen, and not just because of the toast issues. if your dad is on the brink of doing something awful that you know about and have actually witnessed in the past, you need to be very proactive about not letting that happen.

    also i second everyone who is advising against lots of speeches. seriously, they suck. even as the bride i wouldnt want to hear people rattle on and on about me. thats just weird.

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay March 26, 2013, 10:04 am

    Like the others said, just skip the family speeches. Most weddings I’ve been to only involved the maid of honor and best man giving speeches at the reception, anyway. I also agree with Wendy that you need to find SOMEONE to be willing to babysit your dad. I know that your fiance wants to just let things play out, but I can’t tell you how much, as a guest, I would not want to be sitting there hostage to someone going off the rails like that during a speech.

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  • avatar

    Essie March 26, 2013, 10:05 am

    Why do there have to be any toasts?

    Seriously, it’s YOUR wedding. You get to shape it in any way that suits you, your fiance, and your loved ones. No one is going to notice or care if there are toasts. In fact, your guests will be grateful if there aren’t any. Every wedding I’ve ever been to, the toasts have been either embarrassing, boring, so overly sentimental they’d induce gagging, or outright humiliating for the bride and/or groom.

    If you want to have your dad there, and it sounds like you do, eliminate as many opportunities as you can for him to have a public meltdown. Starting with the toast.

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  • avatar

    Taylor March 26, 2013, 10:07 am

    WWS! Also, is there something inclusive, but structured he could do at the wedding reception? Like read a prayer, or a poem that you could assign him (in a “it would mean a lot to me to have you share this with everyone on my wedding day” way)?

    I get the family toast thing – my Mom expected to speak at our wedding. She ended up reading a prayer, which was formal, and concise. I was stressed about her speaking at the wedding. In true Mom fashion, she stopped taking her antidepressants a couple months before the wedding (she doesn’t need them, dontchaknow), didn’t tell anyone, and then had a meltdown two days beforehand (screaming, crying, name calling etc.). As my now husband says, she doesn’t know how to process strong emotions, and finds a way to aim them at someone or something. Anyway, it culminated in her giving a pretty brutal toast at the rehearsal dinner, which was a much smaller group (and more appropriate setting). And she was fine at the wedding. I’ve seen parents give awful speeches at weddings, graduations, you name it, and ultimately, it’s on them. Yes it sucks, but it ends up being a small part of a big thing, and if you can’t avoid it, just breathe through it, and know it’s on your dad if he misbehaves, not on you. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, but glad you and your guy seem to be handling it well. At the end of the day, it will be another story to tell.

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    • avatar

      Temperance March 26, 2013, 11:50 am

      My mother is similar, except my sister and I are convinced that her “mild depression” is a personality disorder based on the lifetime of abuse she foisted on us (mostly me). I didn’t invite her to my wedding because she’s prone to huge, embarrassing emotional displays and name-calling (to put it mildly) and I didn’t want someone that I frankly don’t even like taking credit for my wedding.

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  • avatar

    Sasa March 26, 2013, 10:10 am

    First of all, LW, I’m sorry you have to deal with this. It’s great that you’re talking with a therapist about your feelings regarding your dad’s illness – what’s her take on this situation? Maybe you’ve already asked her advice on this, but it might be useful to discuss this in detail with your therapist. My take is that there’s probably no way to ensure that your dad won’t go off the rails at your wedding, as sad as that is. You can try to skip toasts altogether rather than letting your brother give one, you can try to let your dad get it out of his system at the rehearsal dinner, and find someone to watch your dad – those are all excellent ideas. But I would advise, above all, to try and accept that he might make a scene nevertheless and to tell yourself that you share no responsibility for that if it does happen. Don’t worry about making your guests feel bad, they will get over it. I also wouldn’t worry too much about “honoring your dad” (you don’t have to) or “keeping the peace” (you can’t if someone else flies off the handle).

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl March 26, 2013, 10:11 am

    I don’t know if this is an issue with your dad- but if he over drinks ever, put your bartenders on alert to watch him (and cut him off if necessary). And probably let your banquet coordinator or contact at your facility know. Just to safe gaurd yourself. The last thing you’re going to want is him to get drunk too. (If he doesn’t drink, feel free to disregard.)

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    • katie

      katie March 26, 2013, 11:15 am

      oh, and please pay attention to a (possible) drinking issue in regards to contracts and insurance and liability issues…

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite March 26, 2013, 10:26 am

    I have a hard time seeing that no one is willing to stand up during a speech gone bad to redirect him. Redirection doesn’t have to be confrontational, just noting that it’s time for the next speech or activity.

    Otherwise, look into prices for security. If crowds are a trigger, you can instruct them to escort him to a quiet area for a short period of time to calm down and regain composure. They can also be helpful in the event of any unforseen circumstances as well.

    And nix the speeches from everyone and their brother. No one likes them. The only one I remember from the many weddings I’ve attended was part of the poem my sister’s friends wrote to her and her husband about the open bar.

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    • avatar

      Desiree March 26, 2013, 11:12 am

      I realize that the recommendations for security are well-intentioned, but that idea could explode. Having a mentally unstable person who is unnerved by the excitement of the day be escorted away by SECURITY is like throwing kerosene on fire. If I tried to have that done with my father at the wedding reception, it would probably result in a physical fight. Barring a truly dangerous person, these matters are best handled discreetly by someone with a personal relationship to the person in question.

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      • katie

        katie March 26, 2013, 11:31 am

        so youd rather just have him run wild the whole night -assuming that family really does refuse to help out babysitting-?

        i would have zero problem having security escort a belligerent person out of my wedding, birthday party, house, baby shower, lunch, yoga class, anything. once you cross a line you cross a line. at some point he has to be held accountable for the way he acts.

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      • avatar

        Desiree March 26, 2013, 11:41 am

        “so youd rather just have him run wild the whole night?” Making an embarrassing speech is NOT grounds for a security escort (if it were, many brides and grooms would need to have their bridal party escorted out of the wedding reception!). Mishandling the situation can cause it to escalate. The bride never suggested her father was threatening, just that he might speak inappropriately. That’s awkward (God knows I’ve been through it a thousand times), but it isn’t the end of the world.
        “i would have zero problem having security escort a belligerent person out of my wedding, birthday party, house, baby shower, lunch, yoga class, anything” That’s all well and good, but having a close loved one with mental illness introduces all kinds of complications. I genuinely love my dad and, when he is taking care of himself, we have a lot of fun together. That doesn’t undo the times he has been out-of-line, but it does change the way I handle those times. Amongst other things, he is autistic. He lacks the ability to even UNDERSTAND why some of the things he does are socially inappropriate. I will make arrangements on my wedding night for him not to speak, but I would never subject him to the humiliation of being escorted away by security unless I thought he was going to hurt someone (which he wouldn’t).

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      • katie

        katie March 26, 2013, 11:46 am

        if its literally just an inappropriate speech, why even worry about it? then its just, oh thats dad! haha hes so crazy.

        i mean if its really that insignificant, this bride might be a bridezilla concerned about him ruining her “perfect” day- and thats dumb. but i feel like its a little bit more then that, because she actually took the time to write in and be worried about him getting “angry quickly and goes off on rants, and it’s always hard to tell what will set him of”. that to me sounds a little more dangerous and perhaps warranting of security- ESPECIALLY because the rest of the family wont help out with this.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay March 26, 2013, 11:53 am

        I agree with you, Katie. I assumed that by her concern that it wasn’t just about a weird speech. That’s something we’ve all encountered. But someone who gets really angry and goes on rants is a different story. I mean, is this like yelling at the audience or to someone who isn’t there? Because that could be really scary for a lot of people, particularly if another guest does try to get him to stop and he freaks out at them.

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      • avatar

        Temperance March 26, 2013, 11:54 am

        Um, having a mentally ill parent, I can tell you that having to deal with the potential of being humiliated by a parent’s craziness and acting out is more than just being a bridezilla. My mother is, among other things, incredibly prone to huge displays of crying, screaming, and name-calling. It’s embarrassing! I wanted to crawl into a hole at my senior show for dance, when she came onstage and started bawling and screaming like someone had just died. The other mothers and fathers were proud, smiling, happy …. not my mother! As soon as the song ended, I ran offstage and hid, crying, because I was embarrassed by her yet again.

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      • avatar

        Lindsay March 26, 2013, 1:48 pm

        I can’t speak for Katie, but what I was responding to was the claim that it was simply an “embarrassing speech” that would simply be awkward and not a big deal. IN THAT CASE, having someone ready to pull them aside or cutting them out of the speeches may not be worth it. But I suspect that what the LW is worried about is very similar to what you’re describing (with screaming or name-calling), and that’s why it is relevant to take precautions.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 26, 2013, 12:03 pm

        Yeah I think she is afraid that the speech (or them keeping him from making one) is just going to set him off into something much worse than that.

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow March 26, 2013, 11:01 am

    I think I’ve only been to 1 or 2 weddings where the father of the bride gave a speech. Is that a “thing”? I thought usually it was just the maid of honor and best man.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 26, 2013, 11:11 am

      Depends on your circle, but it’s common here in the SE. The father of the bride (who is hosting and footing the entire bill obviously) welcomes and thanks everyone for attending.

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    • avatar

      rachel March 26, 2013, 12:46 pm

      I’ve heard speeches from the father of the bride *and* the father of the groom. I think it just depends on the family.

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    • avatar

      lindsaybob March 27, 2013, 10:46 am

      Certainly in the UK the tradition is that there are speeches by the father of the bride, the groom and the best man. It’s not usual over here for the maid of honour to give a speech.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 March 26, 2013, 10:28 am

    I agree with everyone that says ax the toast, but I can see one problem with that, and it is the fact that your husband to be, wants everyone to speak, so I’m guessing cutting them out completely is not going to work. But whatever you do, at least have your husband comprimise on letting everyone who wants to speak actually do so, because I would rather go to a wedding where the father of the bride gives a crazy speech with his pants around his ankles, and his shirt on backwards, than have to sit through 12 speeches.

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    Temperance March 26, 2013, 11:44 am

    LW, I also have a mentally ill parent. It’s my mother. For my own sake, I decided not to invite her to my (very small, intimate) wedding. I couldn’t stomach the idea of her ruining my wedding by acting like a total bitch to me, having an emotional scene or meltdown (as is her usual MO, crying hysterically while screaming), or worse. (For reference, at my sister’s graduation party, she screamed at me in front of everyone and called me a selfish bitch who can’t handle things being about somebody ELSE for a change because I had two friends who I hadn’t seen in months stop over. At my sister’s shower, she reamed me out for greeting guests and not stirring up the food.) Bluntly, she wrote a check with her lifetime of abuse that I decided to cash to have the wedding that I wanted.

    You don’t have to let your father make a toast. You don’t have to even invite him (although you don’t seem comfortable with that). It doesn’t matter if his feelings get hurt, because you don’t want memories of your wedding tarnished by him acting out. You will probably feel guilty either way, so at least feel guilty and have the wedding you want.

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    Julia March 26, 2013, 11:53 am

    WWS. I usually find toasts and speeches to be a little disruptive to the party atmosphere, and they are rarely memorable. Because of that, and because I had a sister maid of honor who wanted to give a speech and is also known for her cruel sense of humor, my husband and I decided any and all speeches would be done at the rehearsal dinner.

    I’m so glad we did. My sister surprised everyone by giving a sweet toast. My husband’s brother also surprised everyone by giving a long-winded speech almost entirely about himself. It wasn’t bad, but I am glad all of our guests didn’t have to sit through it.

    I realize I haven’t added anything useful to the conversation, just that I agree if you want to control damage that could be caused by a toast, eliminate them all together (most — if not all — guests won’t miss the toasts) or arrange for the toasts to be said in front of a smaller, intimate group.

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    AKchic March 26, 2013, 2:46 pm

    I would skip the toasting if at all possible. I don’t see a point to having toasts in general. But, that’s just me.

    It may hurt your relationship with your father, but you could bluntly tell him that if he acts out at your wedding, you will ask him to leave, and someone will escort him out. Of course, that in itself could (and probably will) make a scene. And he may refuse to come because he feels insulted.

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